1. Finding your story

Listen here:

You’d like to secure coverage in the nationals or magazines – as you would like a more prominent profile and know this will lead to more work. But you’re not sure where to start. Firstly, you need your ‘story’. I’ll explain what this is and how to find yours (with examples). Then I’ll set you an exercise.

When I launched my digital parenting and lifestyle magazine The Early Hour, I had experience in blogging and sharing content via social media, but knew nothing about PR. I didn’t even really know what PR was (my ex-boyfriend worked in PR and brought home lots of products, so I thought it must be to do with getting free things. In some ways, it is).

It wasn’t until I did a Prince’s Trust business course and was allocated a wonderful mentor that I started to think about getting other people (or publications) to spread the word about me (and mine). Tracy, my mentor, explained that if you want to be featured in a newspaper, magazine or on a website, you need to have a story.

I wasn’t sure I really had one. I’d just set up a digital magazine because I wanted to be my own boss. But Tracy pointed out that I’d actually lost my job when I had my first baby, and had launched my business – The Early Hour – on maternity leave. She said that other mothers might find this story inspiring.

With social media putting many of us at the forefront of our businesses and brands, it’s become the norm for people to learn about why you started your freelance work or business. So this is a good place to start, in terms of finding your story. And you can jazz it up, or develop it later.

Some questions to get you thinking…

  • Why did you begin on the path you’re on?
  • Did you decide you wanted to try something new, or were you booted out of a previous career (like me)?
  • Did you face relatable or unusual/shocking challenges that led to this new career? (mine was relatable: losing my job because of having a baby – maternity discrimination.)
  • Is there a moving or heartwarming element to your reason for doing this work? (eg. wanting to help people in some way, or launching after losing a close relative and wanting to honour them).

Try to keep in mind that while you might see your story as very ordinary – perhaps you feel you simply saw a gap in the market and decided now was the time to set up shop – others will be really interested in how and why you set up on your own. Lots of people in a full-time job, desperate to make the leap into self-employment, will be keen to hear stories like yours.